Delphax to Develop Production Color Inkjet Product Based on Memjet Heads

Jim Hamilton
Apr 29, 2011

Over the past year there have been quite a few Memjet partnership announcements, but most have been for office or tabletop label printers. In the production document space, there was the announcement from Neopost about a Memjet partnership, but yesterday’s news from Delphax is the first time that Memjet has been linked to a company with a history of selling production document printing systems. That’s interesting news.

Neither Delphax nor Memjet said much about what the product would look like, so for now we’ll have to use our imaginations. It will be color, inkjet, and fast, but feed type and format were not disclosed. Delphax did say that it was aiming to introduce the product at drupa in May of 2012. This would be Delphax’s first color product. The company is best known for robust high-volume monochrome printing systems like the cut-sheet Imaggia II and the continuous feed CR and RS Series products. It also offers finishing technology through its Foliotronic high-volume bookbinding system. InfoTrends expects that the new inkjet system will build on Delphax expertise areas in paper handling, integrated product development, high-speed RIPping, and finishing.

Some background on Memjet’s inkjet technology will help to paint a picture of the capabilities that it will bring to the market. “MEM” stands for Micro-Electro-Mechanical, and refers to the design of Memjet’s page-wide, one-pass arrays. Memjet’s printheads use thermal drop-on-demand technology that has a printable width of 8.77 inches (222.8 mm) and a top native print resolution of 1,600 dots per inch (dpi). The head can print at six inches (152 mm) per second at 1,600 by 1,600 dpi or at twelve inches (305 mm) per second at 1,600 by 800 dpi. If you consider that an A4/letter page is a little less than a foot long that puts the maximum speed in A4/letter equivalents at more than 60 pages per minute. Each printhead has five ink channels and a total of ten rows of nozzles (i.e., two rows of nozzles per channel). Each row enables 800 dpi resolution. Alternate rows are slightly offset to enable 1,600 dpi in combination. Memjet puts the drop size at 1-2 picoliters and estimates that the drop diameter is about 14 microns (about the width of a human hair).

Memjet page-wide inkjet array

Memjet page-wide inkjet array

The five ink channels can be configured in multiple ways. This could include a process color plus two black ink channels (CMYKK), a three-color photo system using two cyan, two magenta and one yellow (CCMMY), an all black system with five black channels, or some other combination. The inks, which are aqueous and dye-based, are manufactured by third-party partners who are required by Memjet to pass strict quality audits.

Quite a few companies have announced partnerships or products with Memjet partners including:

Company Product Name Partnership Announcement Date Country/
Delphax Technologies Not specified April 2011 Global
Lomond EvoJet Office April 2011 Russia
Impression Technology Americas Rapid Label Systems X1 March 2011 Americas
Lenovo Devices Not specified January 2011 China
Kpowerscience WinJet January 2011 Taiwan
WeP Peripherals WeP printer January 2011 India
MainStream LLC 12 Pacc label printer October 2010 Americas
Neopost USA RENA Mach 5 Color Mail Printer (in partnership with Astro Machine Corporation) October 2010 USA
Astro Machine Corporation AstroJet M1/M2 label printer May 2010 Americas
OWN-X KFT SpeedStar 3000 label printer May 2010 Europe & Russia
Rapid Machinery Company Rapid X1/X2 label printer May 2010 Asia/Pacific

The announcement by Delphax caps a series of Memjet partnership announcements, and will certainly be followed by others. The importance of yesterday’s announcement is that a company with experience in high-volume document systems is taking the technology into the production space. Though little is known today about what Delphax will do with the Memjet technology, it’s a fascinating first step and we look forward to hearing more as drupa 2012 approaches.

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